OKC Thunder struggle to find a groove vs Hornets

Mason Plumlee #24 of the Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Mason Plumlee #24 of the Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder entered Thursday’s game with a lot of high hopes before taking on the Hornets in their first road game in seven contests. The NBA announced that the OKC Thunder would return to National Television for the first time since September 2020, and the Thunder were a game out of a Western Conference play-in spot.

Heading on the road to Charlotte should have been a winnable game for the play-in hopefuls, but the Oklahoma City Thunder fell 121-113. Playing without Aleksej Pokusevski, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Ousmane Dieng, and Chet Holmgren, the Thunder just lacked resistance in the paint.

The OKC Thunder fall to the Hornets 121-113 despite Shai Gilgeous-Alexander dropping 28 points, and Jalen Williams continuing to thrive

Oklahoma City was forced to battle against the Hornets, but at the buzzer of the second frame, OKC took the lead in this contest. Leading in the first half for just one-tenth of a second, things still felt positive for the Thunder given their formula.

As the best third-quarter team in the NBA, taking a lead in the break should allow you to swell that margin to a comfortable cushion in the third quarter. Then, you just have to survive the non-Shai Gilgeous-Alexander minutes to start the fourth and come away with a road win.

That is not how the game panned out, The Oklahoma City Thunder ended up losing the third frame 28-24 and being outscored in the fourth 36-29. This game saw eight lead changes, seven times tied, and the Hornets’ biggest lead was just 10 compared to OKC’s largest lead only getting up to three.

The Thunder just could not find a groove offensively, many wide-open looks clanked off the rim. On the defensive end, the Hornets dominated in the paint only missing two shots at the rim all night and collecting 66 paint points.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 28 points, three rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Josh Giddey posted a 21-point ten rebound double-double.

This loss will hurt the Thunder in the standings, in the last week they have lost two heartbreakers they will want back. Now, OKC enters a tougher part of their schedule that continues with a game against the 76ers Saturday, then a home/road back-to-back with the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic.

We will quickly find out which direction this season is headed after this next wave of games for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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